Epidermal induction and inhibition of neural fate by translation initiation factor 4AIII

Development. 1997 Nov;124(21):4235-42. doi: 10.1242/dev.124.21.4235.


Bone Morphogenetic Protein-4 (BMP-4) is a potent epidermal inducer and inhibitor of neural fate. We have used differential screening to identify genes involved in epidermal induction downstream of BMP-4 and report here evidence of a novel translational mechanism that regulates the division of the vertebrate ectoderm into regions of neural and epidermal fate. In dissociated Xenopus ectoderm, addition of ectopic BMP-4 leads to an increase in the expression of translation initiation factor 4AIII (eIF-4AIII), a divergent member of the eIF-4A gene family until now characterized only in plants. In the gastrula embryo, Xenopus eIF-4AIII (XeIF-4AIII) expression is elevated in the ventral ectoderm, a site of active BMP signal transduction. Moreover, overexpression of XeIF-4AIII induces epidermis in dissociated cells that would otherwise adopt a neural fate, mimicking the effects of BMP-4. Epidermal induction by XeIF-4AIII requires both an active BMP signaling pathway and an extracellular intermediate. Our results suggest that XeIF-4AIII can regulate changes in cell fate through selective mRNA translation. We propose that BMPs and XeIF-4AIII interact through a positive feedback loop in the ventral ectoderm of the vertebrate gastrula.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptors
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / metabolism
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Ectoderm / metabolism
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Embryonic Induction / genetics
  • Epidermis / embryology*
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4A
  • Gastrula / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Peptide Initiation Factors / genetics*
  • Peptide Initiation Factors / metabolism
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Receptors, Growth Factor*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction
  • Xenopus Proteins
  • Xenopus laevis / embryology*
  • Xenopus laevis / genetics


  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Peptide Initiation Factors
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Growth Factor
  • Xenopus Proteins
  • bmp4 protein, Xenopus
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptors
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-4A